University of Massachusetts Lowell

Faculty > Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Professor

“What happens inside your mind can happen inside a camera. ”

Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish American photographer, educator, curator, and writer with over two hundred one-person and group exhibitions at galleries and museums worldwide. He was born in Helsinki in 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1951. A graduate of Wagner College with a BA in English Literature, he began taking self-portraits in 1970 while working as an advertising copywriter on Madison Avenue in New York. Studying later with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at Rhode Island School of Design, he earned his MFA degree in photography in 1974. Over the past four decades, Minkkinen has been primarily engaged as a teacher, curator, and writer while continuing to devote his photographic research and energies to the self-portrait: unmanipulated images of the naked human figure in natural and urban landscapes.

Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Minkkinen also serves as Docent at Aalto University School of Art, Design, and Architecture, Helsinki. Earlier in his teaching career he served as Assistant Professor at MIT, Visiting Artist at Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts), and the École d'Arts Appliqués in Vevey, Switzerland. He has conducted workshops in Maine, Tuscany, Colorado, New Mexico, China, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania and Norway. Spirit Level Workshops have been offered periodically to UMass Lowell students together with Finnish, French, Italian, and Swiss students in Russia, Eastern Europe, Italy and Mexico.

Six monographs have been published: Frostbite (Morgan & Morgan, 1978); Waterline (Marval, Aperture, and Otava, 1994), Grand Prix du Livre at the 25th Rencontres d’Arles; Body Land (Motta, Nathan, and the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997–1999); SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Thirty-Five Years of Photographs (Chronicle Books, 2005), catalog for the 120-print show that premiered at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA and toured to Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Italy, China, and Canada; Homework: The Finnish Photographs, 1973 to 2008 (Like Publishing, Ltd., 2008), and Balanced Equation (Lodima Press, 2010).

Minkkinen’s works are held in prominent museum and institutional collections worldwide, for example: in France at the Georges Pompidou Center and Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris; in Switzerland at the Musée de l'Élysée in Lausanne; in Finland at the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma in Helsinki; in Japan at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and in America, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

Galleries representing Minkkinen's work include Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, Edywnn Houk Gallery in New York, Fay Gold Gallery in Atlanta, Camera Obscura in Paris, Galerie Valérie Bach in Bruxelles, Photo & Contemporary in Torino, Galerie Anhava in Helsinki, InFocus Gallery in Köln, and SEE + Gallery in Beijing.
Highlights of 2013 include an 8-minute premiere demo launch of his screenplay at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Film Festival, “Views on Landscapes” from Scandinavia at the Museum of Modern Art Bogota in Bogota, Colombia and a 75-print 43-year retrospective titled Optic Nerve at the Atelier de Mécanique at the 44th Rencontres d’Arles International Festival of Photography in Arles, France.

Serving a second term as national board member of the Society of Photographic Education, Minkkinen was conferred the First Class Order of the Lion Medal by the Finnish government in 1992 and awarded the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006. Last fall, Minkkinen received the 2013 Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art at ceremonies in New York’s Carnegie Hall. The award was presented by Broadway producer Scott Landis and photographer Sally Mann.


Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Photography


MFA, Photography

Rhode Island School of Design

BA, English

Wagner College